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Paris - both a department and a town

Paris is the central department in the region of Île de France. The town of Paris takes up the whole of the Paris department, so when we talk of Paris, we talk of not only a town but a department too. And not content with being both a department and a town combined, Paris is also the nation's capital and the capital of the historic Île de France region.

Paris - its arrondissements

To complicate things further, Paris is then subdivided into smaller areas called arrondissements. Further information on these neighbourhoods can be found in our Paris Arrondissements Property Guide and Paris Butte-Montmartre (18th arrondissement) Property Guide.

Paris - thousands of years in the making

Paris is a city that has long been the setting for romance and adventure. Whatever time of year you visit, there is always something to do. The monuments of Paris are renowned the world over for their architectural splendour and no guide to this department would be complete without mentioning a few of the classic sites. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, the Louvre and Tuileries, the Pompidou Centre and the Champs-Elysées are just some of the many attractions worth visiting time and time again in this remarkable city. Meanwhile the centre of Paris is known as Intra Muros or "within the walls" and is split neatly in two by the River Seine.

Paris - The Right Bank

The right bank of Paris contains the tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Élysées, running west towards the world's largest roundabout, the Arc de Triomphe. The safest way to the middle is to take the subway! At the bottom of the Arc de Triomphe you will find the grave of the unknown soldier, the focal point for France's memorial days. When you get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the stunning panoramic views across the city will soon make you forget the 284 steps you climbed to get there. In the other direction the Champ-Élysées leads to a district full of museums, shops, markets and restaurants. Here, you will also find the Louvre, one of the world's most impressive art museums. South of here you will find the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral and the Latin Quarter.

And some quieter retreats

Unjustly overshadowed by its famous neighbour, the exquisite Sainte Chapelle, is just 200m from Notre Dame on the right bank. This little chapel contains some of the world's most beautiful stained glass windows. Le Père Lachaise is a peaceful, shady cemetery where many of Paris's famous artists are laid to rest. However, the cemetery is best known as being the site of Jim Morrison's grave. This is the perfect place to take a serene stroll in the centre of "gai Paris".

Paris - The Left Bank

On the left bank of Paris stands the nation's most prominent landmark, the Eiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World Fair to commemorate the centennial of the revolution, it was supposed to be torn down in 1909 but was saved at the eleventh hour when it was realised it would make an ideal radio tower. Underneath, the grassy plains that were once the scene of the world's first balloon ride have been taken over as a French version of speakers corner.

Jump the queues at Paris attractions

Anyone visiting the monuments and museums of Paris would be well-advised to buy a "Carte Musées et Monuments" to cover one, three or five days of sightseeing in the city. The "Carte" will get you into almost any Parisian attraction without having to queue and can be bought at any metro station or museum and will usually provide a good saving over the individual entrance fees. Speaking of museums, one that is well worth a visit but remains off the main tourist trail, is the "Musée des Arts et Métiers". This is a fabulous collection of objects on themes such as scientific instruments, communication and transport.

Bastille Day

Make sure you're in Paris on 14th July, France's national holiday. This commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, which was one of the events which sparked the French Revolution. On Bastille Day, the streets of Paris are packed with people watching the parades through the city. The day ends with an impressive fireworks display.

Unforgettable views

If Paris unleashes the true romantic in you, what better than to share some breathtaking views across this beautiful city with your loved one. La Tour Montparnasse is the only skyscraper in Paris. The lift will take you up to the 56th floor where the bravehearted can then climb the stairs to the very top of the building. The joke goes that the tower must offer the best views of Paris as it's the only place in Paris from where you can't see the tower itself! If you prefer to take in your views drink in hand, then the terrace outside the Pompidou Centre's restaurant could provide the perfect setting - and, you don't even need to be dining at the restaurant to appreciate it.

Gastronomy and giggles

Despite its reputation as a foodie's heaven, the food in Paris ranges between the good, the bad and the downright ugly. It really is a question of knowing where to look for the best morsels that the city can offer. "Le Café du Commerce" on the rue du Commerce (the nearest metro station is Emile Zola) offers great food at reasonable prices in the unique surroundings of a former draper's shop complete with sliding roof. After dining out under the stars, follow up your meal with a trip to "Laughing Matters", a stand-up comedy club where all the jokes are in English. The club has featured the likes of Eddie Izzard, Ardal O'Hanlon and Bill Bailey in its line up. However, if you're feeling a little on the serious side, a trip on the Seine in a bateau-mouche could be a better option.

Keeping fit in Paris

Parisians have evolved over the years into dedicated fitness enthusiasts. It shouldn't be too hard to look for an activity that will keep you fit. There are around 30 public swimming pools in the city. Skating is a popular and fashionable pursuit around Paris. Gyms and fitness clubs are very reasonably priced. If none of these takes your fancy, then why not hire a canal boat on the Seine. Check out Paris' weekly entertainment pamphlets, "Pariscope" and "L'Officiel des Spectacles" for up to date listings of activities.

How to get around

Paris' public transport system is clean and convenient and is by far the easiest way to get around. The public bus system is easy to use although services tend to be less frequent and less reliable on Sundays. The metro is also easy to use and has stops at every major landmark. Driving around Paris can be stressful and is best avoided. Cycling can be risky due to the lack of cycle lanes and bikes are not allowed on the metro.

How to get there

Paris is just 50 minutes flying time from London's airports and most of the UK's regional airports now offer a service to Paris as well. Charles de Gaulle International Airport is 17 miles north of Paris and there are a number of options for getting into Paris once you have landed with taxis and shuttle buses both readily available. The city's second largest airport is the Aéroport d'Orly, which is located 10 miles south of central Paris. There is also a third smaller airport called Beauvais that handles Ryanair and charter flights. Alternatively, you can take the Channel Tunnel rail link from the UK to central Paris in just under 3 hours. If you are driving, the roads from Calais to Paris are well-maintained and signposted.

Paris property prices

The number of British people buying in Paris is growing, now accounting for 10.5% of foreign buyers, while the Irish account for 4.2% of foreign buyers. And property in central Paris does not come cheap. However, if you are prepared to explore up-and-coming areas you can find value for money.

Rental potential of Paris property

Due to the continual influx of tourists, the rental market in Paris is an almost guaranteed source of income for those who decide to purchase here. For further information on property in the Paris arrondissements, see our Paris Arrondissements Property Guide.

What to look out for

Approximately 70% of Parisian property is sold without using an agent. A notaire is always required however, whose fees must be carefully looked into before purchasing a property. These can sometimes be rather high! And for those buying property here, it may also be worth pointing out that sellers don't need to declare any faults that the property may have, except where asbestos, termites and risk of flooding comes into play. So be prepared! Finally, for those properties requiring electrical work to be done, a new law states that all electrical installations must meet EU standards. This may prove to be rather costly if you have an old property requiring complete re-wiring.

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Paris is a department in its own right at the heart of the Ile-de-France.

Paris Property Map


Île-de-France Guide

Île-de-France Property Map



Paris Arrondissements Guide

Paris Butte-Montmartre (arrondissement 18) Guide


Sextant France
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